IS & Ex


Leading safety in the fragrance industry

May 2021 IS & Ex

Once the artistic work of creating a fragrance is complete and the formula has been signed off, the process of extracting the raw materials and blending begins. Safety and compliance are a priority during the manufacturing process and so, when flavours and fragrances giant Givaudan wanted to strengthen its safety critical alarm systems at its Kent facility, it partnered with Omniflex to upgrade its fleet of annunciators.

Located in Ashford, Kent, Givaudan’s UK plant is where the company creates fragrances and oral care flavours. Here, the company brings together the various ingredients to create the finished formula that gives consumers their favourite scent or oral care flavour.

In this process, the facility uses a variety of plant machinery and equipment to monitor variables such as atmospheric quality, oxygen levels, temperature, pressure, well-levels, ventilation, pump operation and extraction processes.

The ingredients being processed are carefully chosen from a palette of many thousands and include powders and liquids. A typical batch could contain anywhere from just two or three up to 120 ingredients at a time, at various weights and volumes. These raw materials arrive in packages weighing anywhere between 0,5 kg to 20 tonnes and are tested to ensure they meet the high-quality standards before being used.

The facility uses on-site laboratories to carry out quality assurance (QA) on samples. Nitrogen and hydrogen-based gas chromatography equipment is used to ensure the materials have not been exposed to air. To ensure worker safety and to maintain compliance with the UK’s Control of Major Accident Hazards (CoMAH) regulations, the QA areas are fitted with sensors to detect safe oxygen levels.

To meet these safety regulations and to ensure that the materials are kept within containment guidelines, the plant uses safety instrumented systems, including alarm annunciator panels, that alert plant staff if the process measurements deviate from safe parameters.

“As part of our continued drive to meet the highest levels of safety on site, we review equipment regularly and one of the areas we decided to upgrade was a range of our legacy alarm annunciators,” explains Stuart Brazil, electrical project manager at Givaudan. “Our goal was to add networking functionality to our alarm system and reduce the amount of physical wiring on the network that spans around eight hectares. Not only would this make the process of adding new alarms more efficient, it would ensure the system met the latest IEC 61508 safety integrity level (SIL) rules. To consolidate our operators’ alarm sheets and deliver even faster response times, we partnered with Omniflex on the upgrade project.”

“We worked with Givaudan’s Ashford facility to upgrade the site’s legacy Highland alarms, while keeping engineering costs down,” says Gary Bradshaw, director at Omniflex UK. The two key points in the brief were to add networking and a way of prioritising critical and non-critical alarms. We also enhanced the layout of the alarms to ensure that they are displayed to the right person, in the right area, at the right time.”

The project was completed in November 2020. Omniflex delivered several Omni 16C alarm annunciators, as well as the necessary HMIs and signal conditioning units required to work alongside the existing system.

“The units allow users to create up to 256 alarm points using a panel mounted LED-backlit display,” says Bradshaw. “Crucially, the units also provide connectivity to interface with a PLC, DCS or scada system.”

“We’re really happy with the upgrades to our safety-critical alarm system,” concludes Brazil. “It’s faster, more responsive and less complex, allowing easy alarm prioritisation and the ability to control it centrally.

“The team at Omniflex has also been brilliant in helping us through the process. Despite social distancing constraints, their engineer successfully carried out the factory acceptance test on-site. This allowed us to do a dry-run and test the system before it was installed and commissioned. Additionally, the team also provided training sessions via video calls because of the pandemic. This really showed their flexibility at a time when most companies were closed during lockdown.”


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